Prominent Legal Trends Shaping LGBTQ+ Divorces in Tennessee

July 02, 2024

Are There Any Unique Challenges LGBTQ+ Couples Face When Divorcing in Tennessee?

Fairly recently, the LGBT community received the right to marry in Tennessee. This, of course, is a win for the rights of same-sex couples. However, often marriage may be wonderful at first, but in time, some married couples may have to face the sad and emotional issue of divorce.

Divorce among LGBTQ+ couples presently faces a significant amount of legal confusion, as many state and federal laws have not kept up with the current divorce laws that are in place.

If you are a Tennessee married couple facing divorce, you must seek the up-to-date advice, guidance, and expertise of an LGBTQ+ law team with the knowledge of the most current legal information required to build a case more likely to provide a positive outcome for you and your family.

Since Tennessee’s same-sex marriage laws have just recently been enacted, some LGBT couples will encounter unique challenges when getting divorced, which could include:

  • Having to interpret many unclear divorce lawsIn Tennessee, there is continued debate over specific legal details that pertain to LGBT marriage. As LGBTQ+ marriage laws are new to the courts, their clarity and guidelines may be legally clouded. Therefore, getting divorced in this new and challenging legal environment can be even more difficult. Issues in any divorce, such as health insurance coverage, pensions, alimony, child support, and more, are in a state of legal flux
  • Attempting to adhere to historical legal guidelines and facts – LGBTQ+ divorce is new to the Tennessee courts and many of the other states in the union. The fact that same-sex marriage has just recently been recognized means the divorce courts and the judges involved still have a myriad of legalities to consider when it comes to divorce. This legal “uncertainty” of the laws surrounding same-sex divorce usually adds significantly more stress to both partners and their families
  • Unique treatment by certain court officials – In some courts, as fair as they wish to be, some court officials take a personal religious stance against LGBTQ+ marriage. They may truly attempt to remain unbiased during the legal divorce proceedings, but due to human nature, these personal views may affect your divorce decisions and proceedings. Therefore, it’s legally mandatory that your same-sex divorce lawyer understands these issues and works to limit their impact on the decisions of the court. By dealing with this possibly biased impact, your lawyer will allow the court to make more unbiased decisions and help you move forward with the life you want and deserve.

What Are Some Specific Issues That May Arise in Same-Sex Divorces?

When most states made same-sex marriage legal, these rulings also provided same-sex couples the right to same-sex divorce. Unfortunately, before same-sex marriage was legal in Tennessee, these couples were forced to travel to another state to marry and then usually back to that state to divorce. That is now no longer necessary.

That said, there still are other issues in same-sex divorces that the Tennessee courts struggle with, such as the following:

  •  Awarding alimony in same-sex divorces—Supporting their ex-spouse is a hurdle same-sex couples must overcome. Most alimony awards are based (at least partly) on how long you’ve been married. Since Tennessee didn’t recognize same-sex marriages until 2015, you may not have been married long enough to legally demand alimony
  • Parenting arrangements, visitation and plans, and child custody issues – Likely, same-sex couples do not have children with a biological connection to both parents unless the non-biological parents adopt the child. Therefore, parents might find it challenging to decide custody issues. Hopefully, the couple can reach a mutual agreement on their own so the courts won’t deny visitation to one parent or withhold child support payments to the parent with residential custody

These issues can create severely upsetting and emotional decisions, and having an experienced same-sex lawyer by your side can be of significant help to you in remaining deeply involved in your child’s future life.

Does Dividing Assets, Property, and Debt Differ in Same-Sex Divorce in Tennessee?

You are probably aware that the state of Tennessee, and usually its courts, leans towards conservative values. So, inherently, Tennessee has traditionally had some barriers between same-sex couples seeking to resolve their marital issues. In the past, to address these issues, the courts have provided limited legal marital services to those involved in same-sex relationships. Fortunately, these inadequate alternative procedures are no longer the only help available.

Any divorce has the possibility to instigate numerous problems related to property ownership, asset division, and allocation of debts. Before the legalization of same-sex marriage, most couples in a same-sex relationships that involved assets and property filed a “cohabitation” agreement to deal with dire issues. Cohabitation agreements were usually inadequate but, at the time, served the purpose of defining “what belongs to who.”

However, now that same-sex couples have legal standing, they are fully entitled to the same procedural options and solutions as heterosexual couples.

In addition, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements provide the same protections as those in a heterosexual marriage.

The new laws are clear that same-sex couples must be treated equally under the law. However, these laws are relatively recent and still under interpretation by the courts. Therefore, you must work closely with a Tennessee same-sex marriage lawyer with compassion and empathy to provide you with the passionate and knowledgeable legal representation you deserve.

Is the Tennessee Courts Perception of Same-Sex Divorce an Issue?

Same-sex divorce is still a new concept to the Tennessee courts, and usually, when divorce is discussed in the media, etc., they’re still mostly focused on heterosexual couples.

This perception often creates a feeling of isolation or exclusion among divorcing same-sex couples. They may feel that they are not only failing each other but also the broader LGBTQ+ community at large.
Experienced, knowledgeable same-sex couple lawyers know how to navigate not only the legalities of these new laws but also will work to ensure their LGBTQ+ clients have the feeling of inclusion, comfort, and support they deserve.

In many of these divorce proceedings, some lawyers find that using mediation is a better solution and legal path to follow. This may effectively solve numerous issues, such as the costs involved and the Tennessee court’s history of not being overly accepting of the LGBTQ community.

In same-sex divorces, a thorough and effective LGBTQ+ lawyer can help not only with the complex legalities of your case but also with the emotional and societal stresses these cases may cause you and your family.

I May Be Going Through a Same-Sex Divorce and Need Help. How Should I Proceed?

Same-sex divorce cases are legally challenging and usually face additional issues that heterosexual couples may not deal with. Therefore, your same-sex divorce law team must have the compassion, empathy, and the most current legal knowledge of this type of case possible.

The same-sex divorce lawyers at Brighter Day Law are knowledgeable in same-sex divorce and realize how confusing, emotional, and stressful these cases are. Call them today at 615-437-8808 for a free initial consultation on your case, and they will use their experience to provide the professionality and support you need at this critical but necessary time. 

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